Sunday, 21 October 2012

Spiel day 3 - Mostly a Metro 2033 review

After two days at the Essen show itself (see day 1 and day 2, our third day was about going home. However we always make a stop at Hünxe Raststätte for a few hours of gaming our new stuff. This year we brought Metro 2033 to the table, based on the novels of a postapocalyptic society in the Moscow underground stations.
Game board at start

A pretty hefty game despite its very reasonable price (€25) and its components. There's a board of the Moscow underground system, decks of equipment, monsters and missions and a big bag of counters. And of course six hero miniatures.
The game is straight up strategic confrontation, giving the players and army to expand your territory with and a hero to fulfill missions, attack other heroes and also expand. The missions and equipment help to beef up your hero.
The economic engine revolves around three resources: pigs (food), ammo and mushrooms (tech). These combined allow you to build armies, buy equipment or take over neutral stations after you conquer them. Especially later in the game, when you expand your number of stations and your army size, that pigs become the deciding resource. My ability to harvest 6 pigs in the penultimate round was instrumental in my victory because all opponents had to scale down their army by the last round.
Midway through the game. All factions expanding rapidly
You can fight with your army or your hero and they follow the same combat system (ie your well equiped hero can be as strong as your army, which makes sense in a first person shooter world). A simple set of tactical cards gives you the chance to get bonusses on your strength, which sometimes allows weaker sides to win. It is a bit slow though.

When you're not fighting your opponents, you fight against monsters when attacking neutral stations and when the game shows attacks on your stations. The monsters become tougher in the second half of the game. 

The game evolves through three stages: a slow opening phase, as players develop their heroes and army, a fast middle phase in which the players profit from their developments and then a tough third phase in which the players confront bigger monsters and each other.

While better (or luckier) players rapidly outdistance the other players in the middle phase, they are slowed down in the end phase and most players have a reasonable chance of winning this way. Which was my luck, because I had fallen behind badly by losing two stations to monster attacks. With the lead players holding each other back and being unlucky to lose in combat, my bigger resource base made the difference.


Last phase: attacking opponents and the central area of the board

Player interaction is considerable, especially later in the game when it becomes necessary to attack each other. During the game, you interact through the laws which are voted every three turns. You also interact indirectly by taking the neutral side in battles, thus allowing you to screw up your opponents.

At this point there's little I can say about replay value, but there are six different factions and heroes each with different characteristics. I played with the 4th Reik faction (you can guess) who automatically win tied battles and the hero that allows you to gain extra resources. That proved a very worthwhile combination in a strategy focussing on my army rather than my hero actions. So I think you should be able to explore the options for some time.

In all this is a very decent game, with above average artwork and components that fit the theme. It feels a bit long although I think experienced players can finish it in 2 to 2.5 hours. So far it appears pretty balanced, but maybe that's a player dynamic. The drawing of tactical cards can influence the outcome of crucial battles, thus creating epic stories. I'd say it offers a lot of fun to those who like this kind of theme.

King of Tokyo: showing what King Kong could have done if he could fly

And finally we had another game of King of Tokyo finished that session off. I bought Fly as special action, which allowed me to negate damage by paying 2 energy. This is interesting enough, but more so when there are few opponents left, because the fewer the attacks, the easier it is to keep doing this.

So I hopped into Tokyo when I had the chance and despite not having enouhg energy in the first two rounds I had just enough lives left to continue. With Rob already out and Andries following soon after, Gerard faced an uphill task, because attacking wasn't very useful, and he wasn't scoring many point himself.

He managed to oust me from Tokyo once by special action, but had to let me back in because he was running out of lives himself. From then on it was plain sailing to victory. Hurray!

I think we can conclude that King of Tokyo, due to its ease of play and full on confrontation was a big hit.  

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